[App Fridays] IIT-Delhi duo’s Splash8 aims to be ‘9GAG for webcomics’
With shorter attention spans and the world accessible at our fingertips through our smartphones, there is now a big need for products that make it easier for us to discover and access content or services faster and in a more hassle-free manner. We’ve seen taxi and truck aggregators, an aggregator for all taxi aggregators, social data aggregators, restaurant aggregators etc. Splash8 aims to bring all webcomics under one roof:
What is it?
Splash8 is a mobile app only free webcomic reader. It serves as an aggregator and is a platform to discover and read different webcomics. They aim to create a social network around webcomics to allow users to discover and share interesting content and give content creators a platform to get discovered.
Some of the famous webcomics artists they have include The Oatmeal, Cyanide and Happiness (Explosm), Channelate, Calvin and Hobbes, Abstruse Goose, Buttersafe, Zen Pencils, Toonhole, Nedroid, The Trenches Comic, Extra fabulous comics, xkcd reader, etc. They are in the process of adding more content creators on their platform.
- Users can select their desired webcomics from the list available and follow them on their personal feed.
- Share their favourite comics through social channels or save them for later.
- Get notifications when new comics are uploaded and keep track of unread posts of each comic.
-Swipe through all the unread comics in one go.
Team behind it
The founding team consists of brothers Ankit and Kush Goyal, who are graduates of IIT Delhi. Before starting StarApps, the parent company, Ankit completed his higher studies in management from Europe and worked at startups in New York and Paris. Kush is a full stack developer who loves well-designed products and hates to see bugs in his apps. Both of them are technology enthusiasts and love to try new and innovative products and apps.
Being avid fans of webcomics themselves, they found that there was no dedicated app or website where they could find all theirfavoriteweb comics at one place. So theytook the task of developing such a product themselves. They tasted success two years ago when they launched Oodles, a platform to discover free ebooks.
Related read: Download Oodles of ebooks from this app
Since the launch two years, it is now among the most popular apps in the e-books category in multiple countries around the world including US, UK, Philippines and India. They have had over three million downloads so far. Now they are aiming for encore with Splash8, an aggregator for webcomics. They confirmed that all the webcomics on their platform copyright free or they have taken explicit permission from the content creators to include them on their platform.
Since they had been talking to independent authors and content writers for a long time, theyrealised there were many platforms for ebook authors to publish and promote their work like Amazon, Apple, Kobo, etc. But, there was another huge community of creators -- the webcomic artists -- who did not have a platform where they could publish their work and reach a larger audience. These content creators have to build and manage their own websites and promote them individually in order to reach out to their fans. This creates problems for webcomic readers as they have to follow dozens of websites and keep visiting them as different content creators have their own schedules for publishing new content.
Business model and future plans
The app is free to download and use and the founders are not focussing on monetizing their app at this stage. They informed us that they we were recently accepted into Google’s startup launch program and were extended the google cloud platform offer of $100k. So they are planning to seed the product for a year or so and then monetize it . The startup is currently hiring Android, iOS and Python developers and is working on finishing their iOS app.
On being asked about the lack of Indian origin webcomics on their platform, Ankit replied that as most of the popular Indian webcomics distribute their content only their Facebook pages or Twitter accounts and don’t have a website it’s not technically feasible for them to include them on Splash8 at this stage. But they are trying to get content creators such as Garbage Bin, Adarsh Balak, and Zehreeli Chummi on their platform soon through a workaround or other means
What we liked?
The app has a slick user interface and the different features help readers keep a tab on unread comics. Push notifications also help users keep up to date on their reading without any hassles. The ability to favourite, share through different social media channels such as Twitter and Whatsapp add to the appeal of the app.
What could be improved?
I found a few minor bugs in the app such as thumbnails of web comics not appearing for certain content providers. For other content providers on swiping left and right, some comic strips appeared twice. Ankit confirmed that they were aware of the issues and were going to rectify them soon. Regarding the thumbnails, he said that some content providers have not given them complete access to their backend and content yet, till Splash8 reaches a certain userbase and hence the issue.
As an aggregator of web comics, Splash8 is doing a good job of making interesting content accessible on a single platform and taking the pain out of ‘discoverability’. It will be interesting to see how they scale and reach out to more users and content creators and eventually gain revenue from their app.